Glazed doughnuts. Ok, glazed doughnuts and cute guys kept me coming to church in the beginning. But what initially got me in the doors was an invitation.
I moved to a new city just before my junior year of high school and the Powell family, two doors down from my new home, invited me to their church. I was living with my dad and stepmom, who did not attend church, and I wondered if God could help me in some way. As a party girl, who had been kicked out of high school the year before, I had certainly prayed to God to get me out of many jams. I accepted the invitation.
Each Sunday morning that followed, after a long night of partying, I dragged myself out of bed for the glazed doughnuts and cute guys that were consistently at church. I would make my way to the Powell’s home for a ride.
After a few months of this routine, the youth director shared with me that God loves me and has a plan for my life. As he spoke, there was a stirring in my heart. I sank to my knees and admitted to God that I was a sinner and asked for His forgiveness. I asked Jesus to come into my life and to make me the person He wanted me to be.
The rest, they say, is history.
I grew and deepened in my new relationship with God. Upon graduation from college, I joined a mission organization and began to travel the world, sharing the love of God with others. I opened a women’s home, the Faith House, in Waco, Texas, helping college women learn more about a relationship with Christ and grow in Him. I began to author books and Bible studies. Then, I founded a non-profit ministry to help women disciple and mentor other women spiritually.
As I look back, I reflect on the fact that it was the Powell’s initial invitation to their church that made such a difference. That action pushed the dominoes in my life in the right direction. I am grateful that they were not too busy to notice a new family had moved onto their street. They were not worried that I would be offended by being invited to church. They did not act inconvenienced by giving a ride to another person each week for months on end.
Jesus tells us in scripture to “go and make disciples.” But far too often, we “stay” and don’t make the effort. We are too busy, we don’t want to offend others, or we are content in our routines without interruptions.
I now love inviting people to gatherings.
I invited a mother I met at the neighborhood pool to come to church with me. Soon after, her entire family met me in our church lobby. I invited a gal from the gym to a Bible study, and she is now a faithful member. My son came home from school and told me he invited a friend to church. He added that we needed to pick the friend up that week. When I texted the mother to ask if that was OK, she responded, “Yes, he can go with you, but can my daughter and I come too?”
Who could you invite this week?
Your simple invite can make a huge difference in the life of another. The Powell family could not have imagined all that God would do in and through my life with their single invitation. I invite others to Christian gatherings in hopes that God will touch their lives as He did mine. You could say it’s my way of “paying it forward.” But really, to me, it’s that I know firsthand the power of an invite.
Lori Joiner is an author, speaker and discipleship coach here in Katy, TX. When not writing, you can find her teaching group fitness classes at the Y, walking their chocolate lab with her husband Alan, or playing board games with her two sons. You can reach out to her at LoriJoinerMinistries.org.